Historic Environment Scotland: 20 years of bespoke tours

Client Profile
Historic Environment Scotland is a non-departmental public body that investigates, cares for and celebrates Scotland’s historic environment. Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for more than 300 properties of national interest, including Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle, Fort George and many smaller sites, which together receive more than 3 million visitors per year.
Challenge – Moving towards autonomy
Historic Environment Scotland has evolved over the years, becoming a more and more autonomous organisation. With this evolution, they are always looking to provide the best possible visitor experience, ensuring their guests have the support they need to enjoy all they have to offer.
As such, Historic Environment Scotland needed to work with a trusted supplier who could provide a foundation or starting point to their tour system, whilst later transitioning into aiding their ever-evolving requirements and growth.
Solution – Bespoke visitor experience solutions change throughout the years
Antenna International’s partnership with Historic Environment Scotland spans over 20 years to date. The relationship began in 1996 with the first audio tour ever produced for Edinburgh Castle, the best known and most visited historic building in Scotland. The comprehensive audio tour presents the castle’s rich history and focuses on its majestic architectural features.
The nature of the relationship with Historic Environment Scotland is constantly evolving, designed to support the continuous evolution of the interpretation at key monuments, identified by the organisation’s interpretation plan. This progression led very early on to the development of the Stirling Castle audio tour.
At Stirling Castle, Historic Environment Scotland wanted to convey specific historical information to visitors, but also to allow visitors to freely enjoy the castle’s fascinating story. Subsequently, the Stirling Castle project provided a unique result, where visitors first take a pre-designed linear tour of the palace, which develops into a random-access solution for the remainder of the site. In 2011, Antenna produced an immersive dramatised tour of the palace apartments to coincide with the launch of the Stirling Castle Palace Project – a £12 million project to return Stirling Castle’s royal palace to how it may have looked in the 1540s.
The equipment at each site has been updated regularly over the years, with Historic Environment Scotland purchasing c. 3,000 tour equipment devices and hardware from Antenna. Language translations reflect the evolving needs of the sites, with Mandarin and Russian additions introduced at Edinburgh Castle and Gaelic introduced at Stirling Castle most recently.
To date, Antenna’s partnership with Historic Environment Scotland has spanned numerous sites and styles of interpretation to convey the varied and rich histories of Scotland’s architectural heritage in the organisation’s care. From Fort George in Inverness, to the totally exposed Jarlshof Prehistoric Settlement in Shetland, to iconic sites such as Doune Castle and Iona Abbey, or Jedburgh Abbey, Melrose Abbey and the dramatic Smailholm Tower in the Scottish Borders, Antenna has remained committed to serving these sites while staying true to Historic Environment Scotland’s vision and unique individual goals at each venue.
Antenna prides itself on offering bespoke tour solutions to the cultural and heritage sector. As their partnership with Historic Environment Scotland evolves, so has their combination of services. Fast forward to today, Antenna still maintains it’s celebrated and lasting relationship with Historic Environment Scotland, now providing full ongoing maintenance, account management, content production, and their expertise & consultation when needed.
Outcome – Critically acclaimed tours and positive visitor experience
Antenna’s client-first approach has supported Historic Environment Scotland success for over 20 years. In June 2007, Smailholm Tower was awarded the maximum “five-star” status as a tourist attraction from VisitScotland, at the time a rating bestowed on only eight other sites in Scotland, and acknowledged by the organisation at the time as due in no small part to the atmospheric and immersive Antenna tour produced for Smailholm Tower.
Antenna’s work has resulted in tours of a consistently high calibre, providing an excellent visitor experience.
Here are some visitor comments:
  • “We decided to purchase the audio guide and it was well worth it.” Visitor at Edinburgh Castle Scotland, New York 2017
  • “Without the audio guide, the visit wouldn’t have been as interesting.” Visitor at Edinburgh Castle Scotland, Redhill, UK, 2017
  • “I have been to Edinburgh Castle 22 years ago and I remember then that there was a guided tour by a person but now there is an audio guide which you pay extra for if you want to. It is well worth it!” Visitor at Edinburgh Castle Scotland, Merseyside, UK, 2017

Contact us to find out more about this or any of our projects

Contact Us
Historic Environment Scotland
Country: United Kingdom
City: Various
Institution Type:
Year Founded: 2017
Content Type: Audio
Tour Type: Adult

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We are innovative storymakers and creative technologists devoted to visitor-first experiences.

We make audio tours, mobile apps, multimedia guides, podcasts, interactives, and superior story-driven content for the museum and cultural sector.

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